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Greenville Business Magazine

2021 Greenville Business Magazine's 50 Most Influential and Hall of Fame

Jan 17, 2022 04:53PM ● By Lori Coon




Pamela Evette

Lieutenant Governor

State of South Carolina


Pamela S. Evette, who lives in Travelers Rest, was elected the 93rd lieutenant governor of South Carolina in 2018, the first female Republican to hold that post in South Carolina. The granddaughter of Polish immigrants, Evette credits her parents and grandparents with instilling in her the importance of hard work and giving back to the community.


Before she began her political career, Evette founded Quality Business Solutions Inc., a payroll, human resources, and benefits services firm, headquartered in Travelers Rest. The company, of which Evette was president and CEO, expanded quickly, becoming one of the fastest-growing businesses in the country.


The company has been lauded for its phenomenal growth, and Evette herself has received many honors, including the ATHENA Leadership Award, Enterprising Woman of the Year Award, and the Women Presidents’ Organization 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies Award.


Evette, who holds a bachelor’s degree of business administration in accounting from Cleveland State University, served on the South Carolina Small Business Regulatory Review Committee before becoming lieutenant governor. The office is tasked with reviewing proposed regulations that would affect small businesses, and either supporting or challenging those proposals. 


During her time as lieutenant governor, Evette has worked to highlight South Carolina’s small businesses, promoted innovative public-private partnerships, and spotlighted the state’s nonprofits and the impact they have on communities in South Carolina. She’s also worked to bring new business to the state.


Since 2019, Evette has served with the Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellows Program, which examines education policy in the state, focusing particularly on early childhood education, school funding, and school choice.


Evette serves on the boards of directors of the St. Francis Foundation and the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations. In 2019 working in partnership with PalmettoPride, Evette created the annual #GrabABagSC Statewide Cleanup Initiative. She also participated in SC7 Expedition to raise awareness for floodwater prevention and protecting the state’s natural resources.




Mark Farris

President and CEO

Greenville Area Development Corporation


With more than 35 years of experience in economic development in South Carolina, Mark Farris was named president and CEO of Greenville Area Development Corporation in October 2014. At GADC, he leads the organization’s industrial and business recruitment efforts.


During his tenure at GADC, the organization has announced more than $2.6 billion in capital investment, both new and expanded, and more than 9,000 new jobs. GADC’s recent initiatives include the expansion of industrial sites and speculative buildings in Greenville County, including a new Class A business park, as well as implementation of an existing industry program and development of new web-based labor resources recruitment.


Farris began his career as an intern with the Anderson County Planning and Development Board in 1985; he later was appointed economic development manager. He assisted in location and expansion projects including the Robert Bosch Corporation, Wells Aluminum, and White Consolidated Industries.


A Clemson University graduate who also holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the university, Farris also worked as director of the York County Economic Development Board before relocating to the Upstate.


Farris is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute and achieved Certified Economic Developer status in 1993, and is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina’s Class of 2000 and the 2007 American Leadership Forum Class in Charlotte.


He also is a member of the boards of the United Way of Greenville County and the Greenville Chamber.


Carlos Phillips

President and CEO

Greenville Chamber


Carlos Phillips began his tenure as president/CEO of the Greenville Chamber in March 2016. Over the past six years, the chamber has implemented new strategic plans, including Accelerate, the organization’s private sector-fueled economic development campaign.


In addition, the chamber has led a statewide effort to expand the number of nonviolent offenses that a person can have removed from their criminal record.


The chamber, which has 1,800 member businesses, has partnered with chambers around the state and in North Carolina to form the SC Metro-Chambers Coalition, and has established partnerships with United Way of Greenville County and the Urban League of the Upstate to form the Greenville Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission.


And the Greenville Chamber Foundation secured a $500,000 grant to expand its Minority Business Accelerator Initiative to Columbia and Charleston.


Phillips works with VisitGreenvilleSC, Urban League of the Upstate, Community Foundation of Greenville, and United Way of the Upstate, and serves as chairman of the United Negro College Fund Upstate Mayors’ Masked Ball.







Rev. J.M. Flemming


Southernside Economic Development Inc.


The Rev. J.M. Flemming has been involved in ministry, civil rights, and community service for most of his life.


Flemming served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart, and he pastored his first church, Athens Baptist Church, beginning in 1973.


He also served at Young’s Chapel Baptist Church in Columbia from 1976 to 1980 and Gethsemane Baptist Church from 1982 to 1999.


He has worked with the NAACP for decades, receiving a Community Service Award from the organization’s Greenville branch in 2005 and serving as Greenville president from 2013 to the present.


For 37 years, from 1981 to 2018, Flemming worked as executive director of Southernside Block Partnership Inc., where he helped to distribute food and clothing to people in need, and since 2018, he has served as president of Southernside Economic Development Inc.


And since 2006, Flemming has been facilities manager for Brockwood Senior Housing Inc., and he is past vice chairman of the Greenville County Transportation (C-Funds) Committee.


The list of Flemming’s awards and honors is long and includes Greenville Tech’s Unsung Hero Award for Outstanding Service to Humankind in 2003, the Greenville County Human Relations Commission’s Lila Mae Brock Community Service Award in 2005, the Greenville Branch of the NAACP Community Service Award in 2005, and the Jewel of Greenville Community Service Award from Beyond Difference Inc. in 2008.





Lynn Harton

Chairman and CEO

United Community Banks Inc.


Lynn Harton serves as president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of United Community Banks, Inc., and CEO of the company’s $17.8 billion subsidiary bank, United Community Bank, based in Greenville. Harton has worked in the banking industry for more than three decades, and his range of expertise includes commercial banking, risk management, turnarounds, and change management.


Harton directs UCB’s overall operations, and he works with senior management on the strategic direction and expansion of the $19.5 billion holding company.


He joined UCB in 2012; Harton previously worked as a consultant and special assistant to the CEO and executive vice president of commercial banking for New Jersey-based TD Bank Financial Group.


Harton’s career has also included positions as president and CEO, head of commercial banking, and head of credit and risk at The South Financial Group, which was sold to TD Bank, as well as executive positions at Regions Financial Corporation, Union Planters Corporation, and BB&T.

He is a graduate of Wake Forest University and has participated in executive programs at Duke University, Wharton, Columbia, Northwestern, the University of North Carolina, and the University of South Carolina. He is director of The Risk Management Association and serves on its National Community Bank Council.


Harton has also served on the Palmetto Business Forum, RMA National Credit Risk Council, and the Equifax Small Business Financial Exchange.


He also serves on the boards of the Greenville County Museum of Art and Artisphere, and is board chairman at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts.




DJ Rama

President and CEO

Auro Hotels


DJ Rama is president and CEO of Auro Hotels, a privately held company that owns, develops, and manages upscale hotels under the Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt brands.


The company’s South Carolina portfolio includes the recently opened AC Hotel by Marriott on South Main Street in downtown Greenville, as well as downtown Greenville’s Hyatt Regency, along with downtown Charleston’s Residence Inn Marriott and TownePlace Suites in North Charleston.


Auro Hotels was founded in November 2017, and Rama served as president of its predecessor JHM Hotels from 2011 until the formation of Auro. He worked as JHM’s director of operations from 1995 until 2011.


Rama’s career in hospitality includes work with Holiday Inn Worldwide, Interstate Hotels, and Mariott Corporation.


He has served on the board of directors of the American Hotel and Lodging Association and as co-chairman of the Owners Council. He’s also a member of the Owners Advisory Councils of both Marriott International and Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. In addition, Rama is president of the Cornell Hotel Society of South Carolina and is a member of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts board of trustees.


Rama has an undergraduate degree from Johnson & Wales University, a master’s of management in hospitality from Cornell University, and is a 2016 graduate of the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard Business School.


In his spare time, Rama enjoys reading, hiking, travel, and community service.




Dr. Nika White

President and CEO

Nika White Consulting


Dr. Nika White is an award-winning advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as a management and leadership consultant, author, and speaker.


White’s firm, Nika White Consulting, works with businesses, governmental organizations, nonprofits, and educational institutions to help them identify DEI opportunities and then implement those efforts into their organizational structures and workplace culture.


She was named a Top 10 D&I Trailblazer by Forbes.


Over the past two decades, White has worked with more than 200 organizations and managed more than $200 million in business assets for her clients. In addition to DEI, her areas of expertise include strategic diversity, intentional inclusion, and organizational effectiveness.

White says that DEI is more than a business strategy, “it’s a way to transform the world.”


She is the author of two books, “The Intentional Inclusionist®” and “Next Level Inclusionist: Transforming Your Work and Yourself for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Success,” and she has given hundreds of speeches and presentations on such issues as team engagement, organizational leadership, strategic diversity, race equity, and intentional inclusion.


Her goal is to help businesses and organizations create professional spaces where people can collaborate through a lens of compassion, empathy, and understanding.








Michael Allen

Architect and CEO

MOA Architecture Inc.


Architect Michael Allen founded his firm only two years ago but has already quadrupled his staff.


The firm has taken on projects across the state, including the 12,000-square-foot Thelma Barnes Sowell Learning and Tennis Center in McBee and South Carolina State University’s 1890 Research & Extension Center, a modern-farmhouse style facility for the agricultural community.  


A former Clemson football player, Allen often serves as a guest speaker at his alma mater and also mentors college students. 


He is involved with the Greenville Community Remembrance Project Monument, the Liberty Fellowship Board, and the S.C. Chamber of Commerce Diversity Council.




Dennis Braasch

Owner, advisory board member

Industrial Project Innovation


Dennis Braasch is the founder and one of five owners of Industrial Project Innovation LLC, which works with companies in the automotive, electrical vehicle, battery, food, aerospace, and aluminum industries to develop lean manufacturing layouts for production.


In addition, the company works to plan, procure, and deliver industrial facilities safety and in compliance with best practices.


IPI’s clients include Boeing, Toyota, Lindt Chocolate, and more.


In addition to founding IPI, Braasch also co-founded Global Performance LLC in 1999. The company was sold to Mustang Engineering (Wood Group) in 2006.


Braasch worked with Fluor Corporation for 23 years; his responsibilities included global construction operations, global project controls, and the industrial business unit.


He is a board member of the United Way of Greenville County and Phillis Wheatley Community Center. 




Paul Brocklebank

President and CEO

Canal Insurance Company/Canal Indemnity Company/William R. Timmons Agency


Insurance executive Paul Brocklebank has headed Canal since 2017; he will oversee the 82-year-old firm’s expansion into a new 65,000 square foot headquarters on downtown Greenville’s North Main Street later this year. 


Providing insurance and risk management for the commercial trucking industry, the company under Brocklebank’s leadership has also hired 85 new employees in the past three years with a goal of employing 230 in the community. 


He serves on the executive advisory council and enterprise risk management committee of the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association and has been involved in community programs such as the Greenville Health System Medical Scholars.




Mike Burke

Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Prisma Health 


Mike Burke joined Prisma Health in 2020 during the Covid pandemic, utilizing years of experience with disaster recovery to successfully lead Prisma Health in managing the health crisis. 


Previously serving as CFO of both NYU Langone and Tufts Medical Center, Burke has helped with financial operations, applying for federal and state funding, and improving cash reserves and investments at Prisma Health. 


Leading a technology upgrade also enabled the health care giant to implement new planning systems and electronic medical record systems under his watch. Burke is affiliated with the Healthcare Financial Management Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges.




Mike Callahan


Duke Energy South Carolina


President since 2019, Mike Callahan previously served as Duke Energy’s vice president of investor relations. 


Focusing on creating a 21st-century electric grid in the state, he oversees $7.6 billion in annual economic impact. 


He is also managing Duke Energy South Carolina’s initiative to reduce carbon emissions in half by 2030.  


A native of New York, Callahan has a bachelor of science and an MBA from the State University of New York and is a certified public accountant for North Carolina and New York. He also serves on the board of directors for the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. 




Matt Caldwell


Bon Secours St. Francis Health System


Matt Caldwell came to Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville in April 2019 from Mercy Health – Springfield in Ohio, where he had served since December 2016.


Caldwell previously served as CEO at Tennova Healthcare in Lebanon, Tenn., and Dallas Regional Medical Center in Texas.


He began his career in nursing, and his experience includes critical care, recovery room, orthopedic post-operative care, and as a case manager.


Caldwell’s experience in health care leadership also includes stints as chief operating officer, chief nursing officer, and vice president of Patient Care Support at various hospitals in Texas.


Caldwell has a bachelor’s in nursing from Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, and a master’s in health care administration from University of Texas at Arlington.




David Clayton

Executive director, Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, assistant vice president for Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives

Clemson University 


David Clayton works to bring corporate partners together with the university for projects and programs and collaborates with economic development organizations to attract businesses to the Clemson/Greenville area. 


Previously the inaugural executive director of the Greenville Technical College for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), Clayton also served as the director of the Research Division at the South Carolina Department of Commerce, where his team helped attract more than $10 billion in capital investment to South Carolina, creating thousands of jobs. 




Louise Connell

Supplier Diversity Manager

BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC


As a buyer for BMW since 1996, Louise Connell launched the company’s Tier 1 Supplier Diversity Matchmaker Conference in 2011.


Since that time she has led BMW to realize their objectives for minority spending and increased the automobile company’s community involvement. 


A graduate of University of South Carolina, she also serves as the chair of the Foothills Regional Advisory Committee and is a board member of the Greater Women’s Business Council, Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce Diversity Committee, and the University of South Carolina Upstate Foundation Board of Directors, among others.   




Reno Deaton

Executive director

Greer Development Corporation


South Carolina Certified Economic Developer Reno Deaton has helped to recruit new business to the Greer community since becoming GDC’s executive director in 2007. 


Deaton has helped develop programs like The Platform, a two-day class for local businesses and entrepreneurs and overseen investments like a recent $1.3 million renovation on Greer Station’s Victoria Street.


Since its creation in 2002 GDC has facilitated more than $1 billion in new investment and 10,000 jobs in the Greer community. 


Deaton is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and lives in Greer.  




Jessica Donan

Greenville Office Managing Partner, Financial Accounting Advisory Partner, and U.S.-Central Region Mobility Section Assurance Leader

Ernst & Young


Jessica Donan serves as the Office Managing Partner for Ernst & Young’s Greenville office, where she develops relationships around the state on behalf of Ernst & Young.


In her role as Financial Accounting and Advisory Partner, Donan supports clients in monitoring and disclosing financial and nonfinancial insights for her client’s stakeholders. She also serves as EY’s US-Central Region Mobility Sector Assurance Leader, where works to grow and develop the transportation industry client base for the region, which includes 20 U.S. states and the Caribbean.


Donan has worked in public accounting for more than 20 years, and her clients have included Fortune 1000 and Russell 3000 companies.


Outside of work, she serves on the Peace Center Board of Trustees, Clemson University’s Advisory Board for the School of Accountancy, the Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Coalition of Greenville, and the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Board.


Q. What changes will you implement next year in your company?

A. We will continue to invest in technology while building our alliance and ecosystems relationships, which will provide our EY people and clients with the latest tools and technology. We will strengthen our relationships with our clients through innovative solutions and service delivery models powered by technology and data. We will provide more access to the EY Tech MBA program and EY Badges for learning.


Q. What personality traits make a good leader?

A. A leader should be servient and compassionate while always looking for opportunities to grow. Over my career, I have continually leaned on three words that have served me well: patience, positive, and perseverance.




Jennifer Donovan

Chief Marketing Officer



Robert Donovan




Robert Donovan implemented marketing he learned working at one of the largest Omnicom-owned ad agencies to start DOM360 (Dealer Online Marketing) in 2007, one of the first automotive digital marketing agencies. 


The company has offices in South Carolina, Florida and California, and Robert also launched real estate companies and software organizations. 


An award-winning cyclist, dirt bike racer and skydiver, he is a regular speaker at business events. 


Jennifer, an Oxford University graduate, has over 20 years of experience in automotive retail and marketing, including serving as regional marketing manager for DCH Auto Group (now Lithia). She is an active community volunteer and supports children’s charities.  





Mary Duckett


Southernside Neighborhood in Action Neighborhood Association


Activist and community leader Mary Duckett has been an advocate for the Southernside area since her family moved there in the 1950s. 


Leading by example, she has picked up litter, helped build schools and parks and helped cut the ribbon for the Spinks Bridge over the Reedy River in Unity Park last August. 


Retired after 22 years at the South Carolina Department of Corrections, she is also the Board Chair of Brockwood Senior Housing and a member of the A.J. Whittenberg School of Engineering Task Force, the Josh White Statue Committee, West End Lions Club, and more. 




John Edwards

Vice president/principal/Greenville office leader



Architect John Edwards has been a design thought leader and adviser for over three decades as an advocate for urban design and affordable housing. 


More than a thousand Upstate families have benefited directly from his work, as the Charleston native has led to the planning and building of more than 300 neighborhood affordable housing units.


Joining the firm in 2015, Clemson graduate Edwards, who holds a bachelor’s degree in design and a master’s in architecture, also serves on the Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study Advisory Committee, City of Greenville’s Design & Preservation Commission and the Design Review Board, where he served as chair of the Neighborhood Review Panel for four years.




Alexis Garcin

Chairman and President

Michelin North America, Inc.


Since 2019, Alexis Garcin has overseen more than $8 billion in sales and over 23,000 employees as head of Michelin North America, Inc.


Under Garcin’s watch, the venerable tire company has expanded into other mobility-enhancing areas: digital maps, high-tech materials, 3-D printing and more as they serve industries from aerospace to biotech.


Garcin, who has been with the company since 2002, has degrees from French universities including a master’s in business and management from Saint-Etienne Business School. 


He also serves on the board of the United States Tire Manufacturers Association. 




Lee Gill

Chief diversity officer and Special Assistant to the President for Inclusion and Equity

Clemson University


Gill, who is originally from Indiana, earned a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.


He started a consulting firm, advising businesses and organizations how to diversify, later serving as the chief diversity officer at the University of Akron in Ohio.


Other previous roles included serving as the dean of the Institute for Diversity and Leadership/Professional Development and the affirmative action officer at Lake Michigan College, Mich. 


Gill came to Clemson University in 2016, believing that “no organization can afford not to harness the rainbow of demographic change for a competitive advantage.”






Jonathan Good


NAI Earle Furman


Jonathan Good leads six offices in South Carolina and North Carolina for commercial real estate firm NAI Earle Furman. 


He joined the company in 2000 after selling the first business he purchased after graduating from Furman University in 1997, focusing on industrial/investment properties. Good was elected to the post of shareholder in 2005 and was named CEO in 2011. 


He serves as board secretary and is a member of the Finance & Investment committee for the Community Foundation of Greenville, and is a member of the Young Presidents Organization and the Aspen Institute’s Liberty Fellowship Class of 2020. 




Bennie Harris, Ph.D.


University of South Carolina Upstate


As USC Upstate’s seventh chancellor, Dr. Bennie Harris has overseen the university’s growth including a new Esports (online gaming) program and a new Center for Applied Economic and Community Research as part of the George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics. 


A former senior vice president for institutional advancement at Morehouse School of Medicine, he has also served in leadership positions at Lipscomb University, DePaul University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


A member of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Accelerate Steering Committee, Harris has also served on the boards of the Spartanburg Academic Movement, Ten at the Top, and United Way of the Piedmont.  




Sean Hartness


Hartness Construction and Hartness



Sean Hartness is CEO of Hartness Construction and  Hartness Development, whose current projects include Hartness, an award-winning, mixed-use urban community, and Crescent Startup Community, an innovation district that was announced in late 2021. Crescent is a partnership with organizations including SCRA, Furman University, and Flywheel Coworking.


He also owns King and Society, a full-service real estate, construction, and development firm in Charleston, and Motus, a robotics, automation, and packing equipment solutions company.


Hartness believes that service to the community is important, and the Hartness community served as the site for the SYNNEX 2021 Share the Magic Gala.




Justin Hawkins

Regional bank director, South Carolina

Wells Fargo & Company


Justin Hawkins leads a team of 870 employees and 94 bank branches as director of Wells Fargo’s consumer operations in the state. 


With 18 years at Wells Fargo, his experience includes serving as the area president of the Upstate market, financial center manager, service leader, district manager and (SC) marketing manager, respectively.


He serves on the executive board of the South Carolina Bankers Association as well as the federal legislative committee and the advisory board and public policy committee for the Greer Chamber of Commerce. 


As an administrator of Wells Fargo’s philanthropic giving, in 2020 he helped direct more than $3.1 million to nonprofits and schools in the state.  




Tammie Hoy Hawkins


Community Works


Tammie Hoy Hawkins started in January 2020 at the Greenville-based Community Works, a community development financial institution (CDFI) helping to finance small businesses, needed facilities, affordable housing as well as coaching and technical assistance for residents. 


She previously served as the president of Together Consulting, where she provided guidance to nonprofits, utilizing her 25 years of community economic development experience. 


During this time she served as the project manager for the Northside Development Group’s Northside Initiative in Spartanburg, impacting over $60 million in redevelopment projects. 


Hawkins’ experience includes working at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (VA) and six years as the director of the Lowcountry Housing Trust, helping to implement the first local housing trust fund in South Carolina. 




George Hincapie


Hincapie Sports


George Hincapie is a national-championship cyclist, who served as a domestique, or rider working for the benefit of the team, on the teams of Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, and Cadel Evans.  Hincapie competed in the Tour de France 17 times before retiring from the sport in 2012.


Since his retirement, Hincapie has continued to be involved in product development and testing for his cycling apparel company Hincapie Sportswear. He also sponsors the Gran Fondo Hincapie cycling series, which hosts events in Greenville, S.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn., and will launch a new event in Pennsylvania in 2022.


In addition to his involvement in cycling, Hincapie owns Hotel Domestique and Restaurant 17 in Travelers Rest.





Robert Humphreys

Chairman and CEO

Delta Apparel Inc. 


Robert Humphreys joined Delta Apparel in 1998 and became chairman of the board of directors in 2009.


Since bringing the activewear and lifestyle clothing brand public in 2000, under Humphreys’ leadership, revenue has grown by close to 300 percent. 


With 30 years of experience in the textile industry, including serving as president of Stevcoknit Fabrics Company, Humphreys’ knowledge has helped him to oversee the firm’s transition from a T-shirt manufacturer to a diverse, branded, more expansive apparel company.




Will Huss


Trehel Corporation


Will Huss has served as the CEO of general contractor Trehel since 2007, overseeing the company’s growth in the Southeast. 


He has over 30 years of  experience in the construction and design business, having managed projects for Eskridge, Long & Associates, Signature Architects, and Blue Ridge Builders before coming to Trehel in 1997. 


As the national coordinator for the Reformed University Fellowship, the campus ministry of the Presbyterian Church of America, he is involved with ministry and service at 170 colleges/universities. 


Huss’ board appointments include Accelerate Leadership Council, Leadership Clemson, and First Citizens Bank Advisory Board. He is the 2022 chairman for the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce.




Randy Jackson


First Merchant Services LLC 

Executive director

Phillis Wheatley Community Center


As president of First Merchant Services in Greenville, Randy Jackson provides processing and payment support to businesses across the country. 


And as executive director at the nonprofit Phillis Wheatley Community Center, he serves residents and families in Greenville County, helping them toward self-sufficiency. 


During Covid-19’s onset, he added case management, emergency food services, and virtual formats to the center, increasing engagement and assistance for those in need.


In 2022, the organization will welcome a newly renovated kitchen as well as a senior fitness and recreation park opening on the center’s lower campus. 




Marjorie R. Jenkins, M.D. 


School of Medicine Greenville

Associate provost

University of South Carolina


Dr. Marjorie Jenkins came to Greenville from Texas in 2019 after founding the Laura Bush Institute for Women’s Health. 


She has served as the director of Medical and Scientific Initiatives for the Office of Women’s Health and launched the first annual U.S. Sex and Gender Education Summit, now an annual event.  


Named one of the Top 100 Women Leaders in Medicine for 2021 by Women We Admire, she has also received the Community Foundation of Greenville’s Education Spirit Award.


Jenkins has also served on the boards of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Artisphere, The Commerce Club, and Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s Accelerate 3.0 Leadership Council.




Merle Johnson

Director, Economic and Community Development

City of Greenville 


Merle Johnson brought over seven years of experience in economic development from Charleston County when he came to Greenville in 2020. 


During his time there he helped direct $1 billion of new capital investment and over 9,000 new jobs into the community. 


In Greenville he has helped to launch a national marketing initiative, “From Here You Can Change the World,” designed to draw companies and entrepreneurs to the area.


Johnson is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy as well as the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.




James Jordon


The Jordon Companies


Founder of the Jordon Development Company (JDC) and JCC General Contractors, James Jordon has built residential projects in Greenville as well as facilities for a Coca-Cola bottler and Prisma Health. 


He is currently working on projects for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Piedmont Healthcare, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. General Services Administration. 


Jordon has also partnered with the Urban League of the Upstate, Greenville Housing Fund, Habitat for Humanity and others to build/renovate affordable housing. 


Working with the Greenville Housing Authority he purchased and renovated nine residential properties in Greenville, and JDC continues to manage the properties.




Phillip Kilgore

Office Managing Shareholder, Greenville

Ogletree Deakins


Phillip Kilgore has worked in the practice of litigation and labor and employment law in the Greenville office of Ogletree Deakins since 1986. He has represented clients in state and federal courts and administrative tribunals, and has handled a wide range of cases, from traditional employment discrimination claims to environmental claims.


He’s admitted to practice law in South Carolina, the District of Columbia, the Fourth and Sixth Circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and U.S. District Court in South Carolina and the Eastern District of Michigan.


Kilgore serves as chairman of the Greenville Commission of Public Works, as vice chair for public policy for Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Executive Board of the Blue Ridge Council of Boy Scouts of America.


Q. What are your goals for 2022?

A. Professionally, I will be focusing on supporting the growth of Ogletree Deakins’ practice in Greenville, as well as the large South Carolina and Southeast markets. In terms of my public service. In particular, m service on the Greenville Water Commission, I will be engaging in strategic planning regarding the long-term resiliency and reliability of the water system to support a community experiencing significant growth. I also will focus on further protection for the watersheds that provide our source water, as well as the lands and waterways adjacent to the watersheds.


Q. What changes will you implement next year in your company?

A. I am stepping down as managing shareholder for the Greenville office of Ogletree Deakins in 2022. I will be working with my successor to continue the implementation of ongoing operational changes that will strengthen the office. And I will devote a greater portion of my time to direct client service.




Marcus King



At age 25, blues-rock guitarist Marcus King has made a musical impact that artists twice his age have struggled to achieve.


King learned to play guitar as a toddler, and he started playing professionally at age 11, and at age 15, he caught the attention of guitar legend and former Allman Brothers Band musician Warren Haynes, who produced King’s second album in 2016.


The Greenville native is a fourth-generation musician who recently launched a Signature Gibson custom guitar based on the ES-345 that his grandfather played.


King, who has toured with country artist Chris Stapleton, performed at Eric Clapton’s 2019 Crossroads Guitar Festival. King’s solo album “El Dorado” was nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award for Best Americana Album.


He closed out 2021 with a two-night Hometown Throwdown performance at the Peace Center.




Walter Lindsley

Site director

Lockheed Martin Greenville 


Walter Lindsley leads over 700 employees at Greenville’s Lockheed Martin site, which provides nose-to-tail aircraft sustainment, modification, logistics, engineering and business operations. 


Serving customers including the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard, the 275-acre site produces F-16s. 


He has been with Lockheed Martin since 2018, previously serving as director of modifications, upgrades and overhauls (MUO) for Sustainment Operations in Fort Worth, Texas.


Lindsley, who served 36 years in the U.S Air Force, retiring as a brigadier general, has master’s degrees in aerospace management and national security strategy.




Jim Lovinggood 

President and CEO

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative


Jeff Wilson 


West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative (WCTEL)


Jim Lovinggood was named president and CEO of Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative in 2018, and Jeff Wilson became CEO of West Carolina Rural Telephone Cooperative (WCTEL) in Abbeville in 2013.


In 2021, under the leadership of Wilson and Lovinggood, WCTEL formed a partnership with Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative to expand WCTEL’s reach and bring high-speed fiber optic internet service to the five Upstate counties that Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative serves.


The new venture was named Upcountry Fiber. The new company’s two parent organizations invested  more than $150 million of their own money to help bridge the digital divide that has hindered the advancement of people and businesses that don’t have access to high-speed fiber internet.


Lovinggood is a member of the Tri-County Technical College Foundation board and is serving a second term on the Anderson University Board of Visitors. He is also a member of the boards of Central Electric Power Cooperative, New Horizon Electric Cooperative, Cooperative Electric Energy Utility Supply, and the Electric Cooperatives of SC.


Wilson, a member of the Abbeville Rotary Club, serves on the boards of directors of the Piedmont Technical College Foundation, Abbeville First Bank, and the Fresh Water Coast Community Foundation, which he heled to create. He also has served on the NTCA, the rural broadband association’s Group Health Trustee Committee, the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative board, and the Spirit board of directors.





Evelyn Lugo


South Carolina Hispanic Chamber

of Commerce 


After Evelyn Lugo moved to Greenville from Puerto Rico and began working for a credit card company, she noticed Hispanic business owners often needed support in the region. 


In 2007 she became the inaugural president of South Carolina’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and in 2015, Lugo started her own small business, a bakery specializing in Puerto Rican quesitos, Palms & Pastries.


Lugo is a member of the AARP regional executive council and also served 10 years as the Hispanic/Latino Outreach Coordinator for the American Cancer Society. 


She has served on the boards of the Michelin Development Advisory Board, Greet Chamber of Commerce, Greenville Commerce Club and others. 





Charles McDonough

President and CEO

Interim Healthcare of the Upstate


Charles McDonough has spent his career in the world of health care, much of it focused on in-home care. McDonough has worked to establish methodologies in post-acute operations, and he has focused on optimizing process and procedures, reducing expenses, and implementing technical and operational care solutions.


McDonough came to Interim Healthcare of the Upstate from Graham Healthcare Group, which serves communities in Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. He served as senior vice president of home health operations for Graham. He previously served as administrative director for Wellspan Health, an integrated health care delivery system in Pennsylvania.


In 2015, McDonough was featured in The Remington Report for improving costs while maintaining high quality in health care. He is a 2007 graduate of the University of Lynchburg, and earned his master’s degree in health policy and administration from Pennsylvania State University in 2018.




John McDonough

City manager



John McDonough became city manager of Greenville in 2019 after previously serving the cities of Beaufort, S.C., and Sandy Springs, Ga.


McDonough’s role as city manager is in part to support the goals and priorities of the City Council, including affordable housing, economic development, and public safety.


Economic development is a particular passion of McDonough’s, and one of his first projects as city manager was revamping and fine-tuning Greenville’s business recruitment and economic development plan.


McDonough received his bachelor’s degree from The Citadel and master’s degree from Indiana University. He’s a retired colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and a member of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce board of directors.




Deborah McKetty


South Carolina Community Loan Fund


Deborah McKetty has more than a quarter-century of experience in leading community development organizations. She specializes in the areas of governance, fund development, strategic planning, and leading organizational change.


McKetty came to her current position of president of the South Carolina Community Loan Fund in 2021 from United Way of Greenville County, where she served for two years as chief impact officer. She also has worked with Community Works Inc.


In her role at S.C. Community Loan Fund, McKetty works to provide access to capital to low-wealth communities to help support affordable housing development, small businesses, community facilities and more.


She has a bachelor’s degree from University of South Carolina and a master’s in urban planning from Texas Southern University.




G.P. McLeer


Fountain Inn


In 2019, George Patrick McLeer Jr. was elected mayor of Fountain Inn at the age of 31, the youngest mayor in the city’s history. In addition to his job as mayor, McLeer also serves as executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance and is a founding partner of Pecan Public Relations LLC.


In his work with South Carolina Arts Alliance, McLeer works at the local, state, and federal levels to advance the creative industry through public policy, leadership development, and public awareness.


Last year, he co-founded Pecan Public Relations LLC, which works with nonprofits around the state.


McLeer serves on many boards and committees, including the Mill Town Players board, Municipal Association of South Carolina’s Legislative Committee, Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study Policy Committee, and the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project.




Terry W. Merritt




A lifelong resident of South Carolina, Terry W. Merritt has been mayor of Mauldin since 2020. He won election after a runoff in which he received 65 percent of the votes.


Before becoming mayor, Merritt served on the Mauldin City Council for five years. He is a graduate of the Municipal Elected Officials Institute and the Advanced Municipal Elected Officials Institute. He is also a member of the Association of South Carolina Mayors and the Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study Policy Committee.


Merritt is a charter member of the Mauldin Civitan Club and a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House of Greenville.


A 1982 graduate of Furman University, Merritt served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War.




Maxson K. Metcalf

Manager, Government and Community Relations

BMW Manufacturing Co.


Max Metcalf went to work at BMW Manufacturing in January 2021, but his experience in the business world goes back much further.


Soon after graduating from Clemson University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Metcalf went to work for then-Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. as Director of Transportation and Intergovernmental Relations.


Prior to joining BMW, Metcalf spent three years as district administrator for Congressman Bob Inglis, and from there, went to the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce, where he worked as vice president for public policy.


Metcalf currently serves as chairman of the board of directors at Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and he is immediate past chairman of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, and is an inaugural member of the Clemson University Industry Advisory Board.



Charles C. Mickel

Owner and manager

Capital Deployment LLC


Charles Mickel worked with U.S. Shelter Corporation and Insignia Financial Group before founding his own company, Capital Deployment LLC, in 1992. He has extensive experience in commercial real estate and corporate investments.


Mickel holds a bachelor of science degree in industrial management from Clemson University and an MBA from the University of South Carolina.


He has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Daniel-Mickel Foundation, Peace Center, Greenville Local Development Corporation, the Museum Association, President’s Advisory Board at Clemson University, and the Finance and Investment Committee of the Community Foundation of Greenville.


Mickel is also a graduate of Leadership Greenville.




Steve Nail

Dean, College of Business

Anderson University


Steve Nail has been dean of Anderson University’s College of Business for the past six years, but he began his career as an attorney.


His previous positions include assistant general counsel for Michelin North America and vice president of human resources at Hubbell Lighting.


When he came to Anderson University, Nail was tasked with reinventing the College of Business and its programs. In addition to overhauling the programs, Nail in 2020 initiated the Kim S. Miller Family Enterprise Institute of South Carolina, to assist family businesses in navigating the obstacles that stand in the way of sustaining those businesses over multiple generations.


Nail also co-hosts the Survive HR podcast.





Boyd B. “Nick” Nicholson Jr.

Managing director

Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.


Nick Nicholson has served as managing director of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A., one of South Carolina’s largest law firms, since 2013. The firm, which has offices in Greenville, Charleston, Columbia, and Florence, recently announced its expansion into North Carolina with an office in Raleigh.


Nicholson’s practice includes procurement and government contracts, local government law, and construction law. His clients range from municipal and county governments to business owners, higher education institutions, and nonprofit organizations.


In 2019, Nicholson received the Compleat Lawyer award from University of South Carolina School of Law Alumni Council, and he was named Best Lawyers 2022 Lawyer of the Year for Construction Law in Greenville. 


He  has served on the boards of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina, and Meyer Center for Special Children. He’s a graduate of Leadership Greenville and Leadership South Carolina.




Drew Parker


The Parker Group


Drew Parker founded The Parker Group in 2009; since then, it has become one of the fastest-growing real estate brokerage and development companies in the state. Parker’s goal has been to make downtown Greenville, and the Upstate as a whole, a better place for residents and visitors. Parker also helped to develop The Commons, a food hall concept along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which features a blend of retail, restaurant, and office space. The Parker Group is also in the process of developing Maverick Yards in Mauldin, which will feature town homes, retail and office space, and an entertainment component. Parker says that advice from his parents has been his guiding philosophy: “Always leave a place better than you found it.”




Christopher Richardson

General counsel and COO

BDV Solutions


Christopher Richardson is an immigration attorney, consultant, and former United States diplomat, serving in Nigeria, Nicaragua, Pakistan, and Spain. He won several awards from the State Department for his diplomatic work.


Richardson currently works as general counsel and COO of BDV Solutions, a Greenville-based consulting company that specializes in legal immigration solutions to help resolve labor shortages in a number of industries. He also founded Argo LLC, a consulting firm of former U.S. diplomats, and manages his own immigration law practice, Cooper Richardson PA.


He serves on the board of Upstate Forever, the Hispanic Alliance, and the South Carolina Nature Conservancy. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Richardson led an initiative to provide 1,000 masks for Greenville public transportation, and has worked with local communities in Greenville on issues involving race and public transportation.


Richardson is the co-author of 2014’s “The Historical Dictionary of the Civil Rights Movement.”




W. Burke Royster, Ph.D.


Greenville County Schools


Burke Royster became superintendent of Greenville County Schools, the 46th largest district in the United States, in 2012.


More than 76,000 students attend Greenville County Schools. During his tenure, Royster established the district’s Graduation Plus framework, which works to ensure that students are college- or career-ready by the time they receive their high school diplomas.


Over the past decade, the graduation rate for GCS students has risen by 11.7 points and currently stands at 84.1 percent. During the 2020-2021 school year, students earned around $163 million in scholarships. Royster attributes much of the success of GCS students to the 11,000 employees who work with those students on a daily basis.





R. Arthur Seaver Jr.

Chief executive officer

Southern First Bank


R. Arthur “Art” Seaver Jr. is the founder and CEO of Southern First Bank and its holding company, Southern First Bancshares. He opened Southern First in 1999, and the bank now operates in 12 locations in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, as well as the Charlotte, Triangle, and Triad regions of North Carolina. The bank has approximately $2.8 billion in total assets.


Seaver is a 1986 graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s in financial management and a 1999 graduate of the BAI Graduate School of Community Bank Management.


He has been involved in many nonprofit organizations in the Greenville community over the years. Seaver is past board chairman of United Way of Greenville County and past chairman of Palmetto Society, and he has worked with the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Junior Achievement, Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Leadership Greenville, and South Carolina Network of Business and Education Partnership.




Stephen B. Smith

South Carolina managing director



As managing director of South Carolina for CBRE, Stephen Smith has executive oversight of operations in the Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville-Spartanburg offices.


He has more than 35 years of experience in commercial real estate and was named Commercial Realtor of the Year in 1999 by the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors.


In addition, Smith has served on the board of governors for the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce, and he currently serves on the real estate committee of the March of Dimes and the board of directors for the Greenville Tech Foundation.


A College of Charleston graduate, Smith began his career in Charleston, where he specialized in commercial sales and leasing. He has worked in Greenville since 1993. In 2008, he became executive vice president and managing principal.




Bob Stegner

Senior VP, Marketing



Bob Stegner joined SYNNEX in 2007, and since then, the company has experienced enormous growth, advancing more than 243 spots to No. 117 on the Fortune 500 list.


Stegner was named to his current position as senior VP of marketing following the merger of SYNNEX Corporation and Tech Data Corporation in 2021. During his tenure, Stegner has implemented many innovative new programs to help the company address the needs of its partners.


Among Stegner’s achievements are founding SYNNEX’s small-to-medium business community, Varnex, for U.S. resellers in 2007 and then bringing the program to Canada in 2010 and Japan in 2013; and rolling out the company’s Technology Solutions Division, Solvs, to its partner community.


Most recently, he expanded SYNNEX’s digital marketing team and helped facilitate the merger with Tech Data.


Prior to joining SYNNEX, Stegner was vice president of Worldwide Market Development for Ingram Micro.




Joelle Teachey

Executive director



Joelle Teachey was inspired to make a difference in the world when she learned about deforestation and species extinction in sixth grade.


Teachey worked as a fisheries biologist in the Bering Sea, and the amount of trash she saw there inspired her to become a K-12 science teacher and later, environmental science professor at USC Upstate.


In 2007, she became executive director at TreesGreenville, now TreesUpstate. The organization’s mandate is to plant, promote, and protect trees, and in Teachey’s 14 years as director, TreesUpstate has enlisted nearly 10,000 residents to plant 189 species of trees in the Upstate.


Last year, Teachey was appointed technical advisory chair of the South Carolina Floodwater Commission, overseeing the group’s mission to plant 10 million trees in the state over a 10-year period.


She’s an ISA Certified Arborist and a SC Certified Landscape Professional.




Elizabeth Temple

Chair and CEO

Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP


Elizabeth “Betty” Temple has more than 25 years of experience advising the boards of public companies. In her work as chair and CEO of Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP, Temple works to ensure that clients get the services they need from the attorneys on staff.


She has helped the transatlantic firm expand its geographic coverage, practice areas, and industry insight. Temple practices securities and corporate law, and is a two-time winner of BTI Consulting Group’s Client Service All Star Award.


Q. What are your goals for 2022?

A. Obviously, we are still in a period of uncertainty, both with the ongoing pandemic and supply chain issues. But I also feel 2022 will be a year of great opportunity. The M&A market, for example, is extremely hot, as are certain areas of commercial real estate. The recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contains a lot of both short-term and long-term opportunities for businesses. So I think we will see a lot of good news both here in the Upstate and throughout the country in 2022. Our primary goals — as they are every year — are to help our clients capitalize on opportunities, manage risks and achieve their business objectives.


Q. What personality traits make a good leader?

A. You have to be a good listener and consider input from a wide range of sources. Team members want to feel heard, and they want their opinions to be respected. And good ideas can come from anywhere within the organization. So you want to keep those two-way lines of communication open. Listen to input, then keep your team members informed. Employees are more engaged and productive when their opinions are valued and they are kept informed about key decisions. But at the same time, being a leader also means making tough calls. You take in all the information and make the best decision you can make, knowing that your choice may not be popular with everyone. This is particularly challenging in a partnership organization, such as a law firm. It’s a balancing act—and one they don’t teach you about in law school to be sure!






David Wise

President and CEO

Harper General Contractors 


David Wise celebrated his 30-year anniversary with Harper General Contractors in 2021, and he credits much of his success to the clients and teammates at Harper who have helped build the company into the successful business that it is.


Harper received a number of accolades in 2021 alone, including the Pinnacle Award for the Walhalla Water Treatment Plant, the Construction Excellence Award for the Watauga County Community Recreation Center and the DBIA Award for the firm’s Environmental Systems Division.


In addition, Harper was named No. 297 on ENR’s Top 400 General Contractors for 2021.


Wise is also involved with many community organizations. He serves on the boards of the YMCA Spartanburg and Hope Ministries of the Upstate.